Is salt really the villain? Here's what experts have to say

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Patients with high blood pressure are often advised by doctors to limit their intake of salt. Most people are unaware of health issues that can be caused by overconsumption of salt. It is a known fact that the common table salt or sodium chloride is required for the body. As per the instructions of the World Health Organization a healthy person needs just 5 grams salt in a day.

However, around 9 grams of salt reaches our body on a daily basis through various foods that we eat. Besides the table salt that is added in the dishes cooked at home, one may consume sodium through many other food items. In western countries like America 80% of sodium that is consumed, comes from processed food items. Meanwhile, in India, this comes from traditional food items like pickles and papad. Dried fish, bakery snacks like mixture, chips, sauces and ketchup and Chinese food are some of the popular food items that are rich in sodium.

The connection between overconsumption of salt and high blood pressure has already been proven. Doctors often advise to control salt intake as it would significantly reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes. However, a few recent researches suggest that there is no need to be too scared of salt. It also revealed that fructose, a kind of sugar, is more dangerous than salt. Recent data shows that even people who do not use too much salt have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. However, it is a fact that the blood pressure level has significantly lowered in patients who reduced their salt consumption.

Stroke, kidneys diseases, heart ailments, and gastric diseases are some of the health conditions caused by overconsumption of sodium. Many studies have revealed that intestine cancer is common among people who regularly consume food items that are loaded with sodium. For instance the Japanese cuisine is known for using many kinds of sauces and vinegars that have lots of sodium in it.

Here is how you could reduce use of salt:

• Add salt in the curries only in limited amount

• Try to avoid or lower the consumption of salty food items like pickles, papad, potato chips, dried fish, sauces, Chinese food, bakery snacks, salted peanuts and processed foods

• Make sure that you keep your body well hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day. This helps control the amount of salt in the body

• Always read the food labels or ingredients list to understand what you are actually consuming

• Replace regular table salt with Himalayan rock salt. Instead of sodium, it contains potassium. However, this too must be used in limited amount. Besides, make sure that you don't have any kidney-related issues before using this salt.

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